Jahlil Okafor, the former third overall pick in the 2015 draft, is still stuck in basketball purgatory. He’s appeared in just two games and played 25 total minutes, and the Sixers seem to be insistent on keeping him in storage until a suitable trade partner can be found.
They’ve been looking for that partner for about nine months now, and at this point it looks like there simply isn’t a market for Okafor. This makes plenty of sense, because why would a team give up anything for him when they can just wait until he is a free agent next year? That’s obviously a terrible outcome for Okafor, who is just 22 and is now staring down the possibility that his third season in the league will be a complete waste.
If a trade isn’t going to happen, then Okafor’s only remaining option is to try and guilt the Sixers into buying him out. That brings us to a new piece from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, in which Okafor speaks freely about his desire to be allowed to play basketball this year:
“I would like for them to just send me somewhere where I can get an opportunity,” Okafor told ESPN. “I’ve done everything they’ve asked of me and I would just like to get an opportunity to play with a trade or a buyout. I just hope something happens quickly.
“This is my third year in the NBA, and I know it’s a business. I don’t know if it’s fair or not, but in talking to other people in the NBA, talking to retired players, one thing I’ve heard them say is that what’s going on with me isn’t right and they’ve never seen anything like this before.
“I know it’s business, but in my eyes, I don’t know if it’s good business.”
According to Wojnarowski, the Sixers’ initial asking price for the player they don’t even want was two first-round picks, which is ridiculous. That price has apparently been lowered to a single second-round pick, but there are still no takers.
It’s every team’s right to try and maximize the value of its players, but at this point general manager Bryan Colangelo is risking his organization’s reputation among the rest of league for a chance to get a draft pick of minimal value. As Okafor points out in his quote to Woj, other players have taken notice of the way he’s been treated, and that could harm the Sixers in future dealings with free agents.
Even if the Sixers don’t want to buy Okafor out for the sake of preserving their own reputation, they should do it because it is the right thing to do. They don’t want Okafor and he deserves a chance to catch on with another team; he should continue to be publicly angry with the Sixers until they give it to him.